Turkish Airlines chief in it for the long-haul

Cape Town
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Turkish Airlines chief executive Temel Kotil is intending to remain at the helm of the rapidly-expanding flag-carrier as long as necessary to oversee the airline's extensive fleet revamp.

The airline has contracted for up to 117 Airbus A320s and 95 Boeing 737s, agreements which include the re-engined versions of both types - a fleet plan which extends to 2021.

Kotil says he took responsibility for the fleet renewal, and the contracted aircraft, and that he plans to see the deliveries through, adding that he has an "open" employment contract and will stay in his post "as long as necessary".

He was speaking after signing a codeshare agreement with Kazakh carrier Air Astana during the IATA annual general meeting in Cape Town covering flights from Istanbul to Astana and Almaty.

Turkish Airlines has backed away from plans to order even larger aircraft - such as the Airbus A380 or Boeing 747-8 - because, Kotil says, it still has outstanding long-haul orders for A330s and 777s.

"It's maybe not the right time to talk about [additional] long-haul," he says.

Kotil is confident that the recent political unrest in Turkey is temporary and will not affect its business in the long term, adding that he believes "good things always come after bad".

Air Astana's codeshare covers 15 Almaty and six Astana services weekly. Chief executive Peter Foster says the tie-up brings it closer to Star at a point where the carrier is looking at possible alliance membership.

"We've not formally commenced the process of alliance membership but we're now at the size where we're going to have to seriously consider this," he says, adding that the consideration for Star is "going to be very strong".